Sunday, May 2, 2021

Plant Story--Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima

Sweet alyssum is a pretty plant with white to purple flowers, frequently planted in gardens. 

sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima
sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima

It is in the mustard and cabbage family, Brassicaceae, and has the typical simple, cross-shaped flowers. The scientific name is Lobularia maritimaLobularia from the Latin lobulus, a small pod, and maritima means of the sea, as in maritime. It is native to southern Europe and into west Asia. In places without a winter, it may be perennial, but across North America it is grown as an annual. Seed it in just before the end of spring frosts. Sweet alyssum isn't picky about soil, water, or exposure, (though it doesn't grow well in deep shade or soggy soil), making it very easy to grow. It flowers quickly, will continue to flower all summer, and has a lovely fragrance (if you get your nose down close to the flowers). Under many conditions sweet alyssum will self-sow, scattering seeds that produce plants in subsequent years.